This year’s ESPO Award celebrates the role that ports can play in demonstrating the best strategies in making schools and universities aware of their local port and its activities. The five ports shortlisted for this year’s Award, Antwerp, Bremen, Dublin, Guadeloupe and Valencia all succeed in creating the interest of the local schools and universities in the work of the port.
ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects, before the winner is announced at a ceremony at the Albert Hall in Brussels on 10 November.
Project “Maritime Economics &Logistics”,
Bremenports GmbH & Co. KG (Bermany)
ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2015! Could you briefly describe your project?
It is important that the economics syllabus taught at secondary schools also communicates the importance of the port and logistics industries. This requires not only concepts and materials for the syllabus, but also modules for teacher training in this subject.
The project gives both pupils and teachers in the secondary school sector an initial overview of the maritime economy and logistics as well as the diverse options for vocational training and courses of study in this sector.
Firstly, the project presents the career, vocational training and study options in this sector as part of careers guidance at schools. Secondly, it communicates the structure of the maritime business and its importance for the macroeconomy as part of the economics syllabus and it also uses the ports, logistics and shipping business as examples for teaching fundamental economic theory. Fact-finding assignments at business enterprises and question and answer sessions with local experts enable the pupils to consolidate their theoretical knowledge in practical situations.
ESPO: Why do you think it is important for a port to engage with schools and universities?
The workbooks and the online portal mean that school pupils from grade 8 upwards learn about the port near their home town, about the companies located there or doing business with the port, about the importance of the ports for the national and global economy and about the career opportunities that the port offers. Especially in view of the frequently controversial debate about infrastructure development projects in and around the port, this in-depth examination of these aspects enables the pupils to analyse and assess the issues in a more balanced and objective way.
ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2015?
Up till now, there is no comparable project in Germany which is targeted specifically at school pupils and designed to link the following objectives:
- Communication of the importance of the maritime economy and ports for the regional and national economies;
- Presentation of the different occupations, vocational training opportunities and study courses in this sector;
- Presentation of fundamental economic frameworks and processes based on the example of the ports and logistics business (position and function of business enterprises, role of infrastructure for a modern national economy, globalisation and world trade etc.);
- To extend the project beyond school boundaries and include systematic integration of contact with practical actors.
A further innovative component is the combination of conventional print materials (workbooks) and online materials. The multimedia design provides different forms of access and different learning methods for pupils. For instance, the online portal ‘Marwilo’ includes a description of all port locations in Northern Germany. The project also systematically links theory and practical contacts which provides opportunities for the pupils to acquire direct experience.
Last but not least, another outstanding aspect of the project is the combination of materials for use in lessons and the provision of web-based qualification modules for teaching staff. Only teachers who have the necessary expertise can pass on the project contents adequately in a classroom situation. This is particularly true in a subject area like economics lessons, which in Germany is still largely taught by teachers without specialist qualifications.
ESPO: Besides having the ESPO Award winner statute, what would the Award further mean to you?
Ports are of central importance for Germany and Europe. However, not enough citizens are aware of this. The use of our materials in school lessons draws the attention of both pupils and teachers to the ports. In many cases, the pupils go on to discuss the subject of the ports at home with their parents. The cooperation between science, the educational authorities and the business community allows us to produce materials which are of excellent theoretical and didactic quality. The pupils receive attractive classroom materials, the teachers receive support for their lessons and this ultimately improves the general perception of the ports and the port’s actors.
ESPO: How would you make your experience in developing the project available to others?
There is a great demand for these materials in the federal states of Bremen and Lower Saxony. The workbook is already a fixed item on the annual curriculum at many of these schools and is used in all classes. The workbook “Economics at the Ports” was therefore reprinted for the fourth time in August 2015 in an updated and enlarged edition.
There has also been a steady rise in demand from the other north German federal states which have taken part in the project since 2011 and an increasing number of schools now regularly use the material. A large number of teachers have attended parallel advanced training and education courses to qualify them to teach this subject.
In less than ten years, the long-term project has therefore become a well-established element of the educational system and is continuously expanding, both in terms of the materials on offer as well as the level of demand.